It’s July 1975 and Dave Rogers has just landed his first reporting job at the Granby Leader Mail. Having grown up in Montreal, it’s not a part of Quebec’s Eastern Townships he knows very well, despite having been born there. Amidst the stories of little old ladies turning 100, petty thefts and small town politics, Dave soon finds himself covering real news. But before long he’s raised the ire of the local crime boss, the mother of a cattle thief, and an English rights vigilante group. Not to mention the mysterious characters who seem to be watching his every move, or the father he barely remembers who haunts his dreams. There are longstanding scores to be settled, but extracting truth from the lies pushes Dave to the limits of what he can, and can’t, live with.
Born and raised in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, Maurice J. O. Crossfield spent nearly 15 years as a daily newspaper reporter at The Sherbrooke Record. He then struck out on his own to work as a professional writer, translator, and editor of Harrowsmith’s Almanac and Harrowsmith’s Gardening Digest. Not content with a single line of work he has also worked as an auto mechanic, handyman, forestry worker and organic gardener. He lives in the quiet hamlet of West Brome with his wife, musician Sarah Biggs, their two kids and an assortment of dogs and cats.
I half expected a benefit dance at the Legion to help out a young family displaced by fire, but this is not your warm and fuzzy Eastern Townships. This is a place of secrets and long histories, an off-island Wild West. The seventies setting is the perfect era for this smokey, leaded gas, ink-stained tale, and it establishes a compelling atmosphere of both nostalgia and dread in which the vivid action and characters take place. I think Maurice has successfully created a new genre: Townships noir.
A well-crafted, great read with true Eastern Townships flavour. This author is a natural storyteller.